Places to do a PhD. in LQG

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In summary, a PhD in Loop Quantum Cosmology is difficult to obtain, but possible for geniuses like Marcus.f
  • #1
Hello folks,

I am currently studying a Masters course in Theoretical Physics in Spain. Here are working Fernando Barbero and a couple of physicists like Guillermo Mena in Loop Quantum Cosmology. I am more interesting in quantization of gravity approach.

Where can I apply for a PhD in this subject?

Thank you in advance.
  • #2
In North America it would be Penn State and also possibly University of Waterloo in Canada, because the Perimeter Institute is there---they have a bunch of very bright creative people. Also in N. America we have Louisiana State University (LSU) with a department that is quite active in LQG. And Florida Atlantic University.
At Penn State there is Abhay Ashtekar, a really nice person and a "grand old man" of Loop and of quantum gravity in general---also he has a strong interest in LQC (but you said you were not so interested in cosmology, more in the actual quantum theory of geometry and matter---the core LQG and spin foam theory.

Let's talk about Europe now. There is of course Marseille, Rovelli's group. A lot of the most successful young researchers got their PhDs in Marseille, or else did a postdoc there.

Let me think about other places. Erlangen seems to be strong. Their funding support is good too, I think.
Erlangen has a program called EFI (emerging fields initiative) and together with Warsaw, Erlangen is sponsoring the 3rd EFI Winter School in LQG in 13-20 February in the Tirolian ski country.
That would be a great gathering of young LQG people to talk to about PhD programs! If you happen to be in Austria in mid February, try to visit the Winter School. It is at a ski resort village called Tux.
I expect there to be a 4th EFI Winter School in LQG next year, in 2015. Keep an eye out for that if you are still looking around. It is a 5-day program that is just MADE for people beginning the PhD.

Erlangen, Warsaw I mentioned (Warsaw has Jerzy Lewandowski) and a track record of producing good PhDs, smaller number than Marseille, but quality.)
Also there is Radboud university at Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Their department has some LQG I think but some other QG approaches as well. Renate Loll is the leader and she does Causal Dynmical Triangulations.
There is also Uni Nottingham in the UK. John Barrett is the leader there and his group has done important work in LQG/spinfoams.

I'm not an expert and even if I were I couldn't help you pick because I don't know you. The N. American situation is simple: Penn State or Waterloo with Perimeter Institute.
the European situation is harder for me to reckon. Marseille (Barbero can tell you about it, or look at Carlo Rovelli's webpage and his group's website, it is very much a team thing)
Erlangen (look up Thomas Thiemann and read what they have on the web)

And the other places I mentioned. If anybody notices I forgot one of the good ones please tell me! And Breo if you need help getting URL to check out Marseille or Erlangen on line please write me PM or just post request for more information here.

For specifically Spanish speaking places, Spain seems good to me, but you are right there and know the situation. I like what I see coming out of both Madrid and Barcelona.
And also there is UNAM-Morelia in Mexico. They have a very good department, good papers and people come out of Morelia.
There is also Montevideo in Uruguay, with Rodolfo Gambini. he is a brilliant guy and he and Jorge Pullin have done some of the best LQG work over the years. But I think it is a very small department.

Now I look back I see that my response was too scattered to be helpful. I didn't realize how many places there were until I started to think of them.
  • #3
Thank you very much Marcus!

The problem is I am not a brilliant student (I had graduated without assist to classes) and Barbero said me that even with great marks in LQG it is very difficult to obtain a PhD out there...

So I am bit afraid about my future in the subject.

Do you know if there exist a chance for average students like me?
  • #4
You say you graduated without attending classes! Maybe you are more brilliant than you think. :w We say "attend" class, when you go to class and hear the lecture.
Where I went to college some of the most clever students would pass their courses just by reading the book and almost never attending lectures.

I have no right to advise you and I speak as a mere amateur so don't take too seriously, but here is my advice. You are in Spain. You are near Marseille. You need to talk to people directly in person. You need to decide on your plan soon, and not wait. Rovelli has a large group of very nice young people, who know the situation in the various centers.
(many of them have gone to several conferences, and have moved around and experienced different universities, young LQG people move around quite a bit)
Here is what they look like:
there is a photograph there. they also like to have picnics, somewhere there are some photographs of the "Quantum Gravity Team"
("Equipe de Gravité Quantique") having picnic lunch, perhaps it is one of the graduate students birthday.
Here is Rovelli's home page in case there is additional information you want there.

You think you are a mediocre student and you are interested in LQG. You want a PhD plan. You should decide quickly, either get out of LQG and pick some other direction or get a practical LQG PhD plan. You need to talk to some nice experienced people face to face who can give you hints about which way to go.

It might be tactful, before you go to Marseille to talk directly with people, if you would buy Rovelli's new textbook (Introduction to Covariant Lqg). You see it on his home page. If you can write a cheerful frank email, it might be good to write to either Rovelli or the number two guy there, Alejandro Perez (he might be a
Spanish speaker as well as English). You could say to Alejandro: "I think I may be a mediocre student but I am interested in quantum gravity and want to make a PhD in Lqg. I want to visit Marseille and talk to some of the group to get ideas about where to apply." He might not write back, or he might write back and say to go away. Or he might write back and say "OK come and talk with us. We are nice people".

Or he might say God knows what! He might say, do not waste any time. Apply to Jorge Pullin at LSU, and to whats-his-name at UNAM-Morelia at once!

Maybe you should right now find out what the airline travel cost is to Baton Rouge Louisiana (LSU) and to Morelia Mexico to see if it economically feasible.

these are good places, and they are Spanish speaking. It might be perfect. Especially if you qualify for some grad student support money. I don't know your finances.

The trouble is, I cannot say anything intelligent because I don't know you or the detailed reality of these places.

It might be, that you could go to Marseille, talk directly to Alejandro, or to some other people of the "Equipe de QG" (quantum gravity team) and they might say "yes that is a very good idea, apply immediately to UNAM-Morelia, and if you do not get a favorable response consider LSU". I really don't know, the future is a mystery. But that is one possible outcome :)
If you ever interview with Jorge Pullin at LSU be sure you know of his introductory textbook, "A First Course in LQG". It is aimed at advance undergrad and Masters students (before the PhD program). It is very basic, more basic than the other introductory textbook, which is Rovelli's new one "Introduction to Covariant LQG".

Pullin is a Spanish speaker but he sounds 100% American, so you would not know his first language was Spanish. He would interview you in English, I think. One should be prepared for either case.

there is a great guy at Morelia who has been at Penn State a lot and who has co-authored with Abhay Ashtekar and with Parampreet Singh. If you ever interview at Morelia you should have read some of his articles so you know the kind of things he is interested in. His last name is Corichi. I don't know where he's from. Mexico I think. His first name is also Alejandro.
  • #5
Thank you very much for the encouragement! :-)

I had already read Gambini and Pullin's book "First course in LQG" and I have just started today Rovelli and Vidotto's new book about Covariant LQG :p

I did not attend to classes ( now I am attending to my masters classes!) and my marks are not good enough... So that is my main problem to obtain a grad student support money and to be accepted as a PhD. student by any professor as I know this is not an easy subject.

My time to ask for a PhD is getting over... I will try it till the clock counts 0 and beyond as this is what I want to do since I was 9.

I am looking to attend to the QG conference in Tux but it is not sure yet.

Anyways, I hope to get some lucky for this goal :)

Thanks again, Marcus.

Could I ask you what are your studies or area of research? If you are physicist :p

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